In the excerpts released so far, Spears rewinds back to her days as a preteen in “The Mickey Mouse Club” — recalling a truth-or-dare kiss with Timberlake, a fellow cast member — and to coming close to being cast as the lead opposite Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook,” a role that ultimately went to Rachel McAdams.
She recalls her childhood growing up with parents that she would later blame for exerting too much control over her life, telling a story about how her mother, Lynne Spears, would let her drink cocktails as an eighth grader. And she discusses the constant pressures surrounding her body, writing how, during the conservatorship years, her father “repeatedly” told her that she “looked fat and that I was going to have to do something about it.”
“I’d been looked up and down, had people telling me what they thought of my body, since I was a teenager,” one excerpt said. “Shaving my head and acting out were my ways of pushing back. But under the conservatorship I was made to understand that those days were now over. I had to grow my hair out and get back into shape. I had to go to bed early and take whatever medication they told me to take.”
Spears had privately pushed for years to end the conservatorship, but she left no doubts about her position in 2021, when she told a judge in Los Angeles that the arrangement was “abusive,” saying that she was forced to work when she didn’t want to and prevented from removing her birth control device when she wanted to have more children. Her father has long maintained that the conservatorship had always been intended to protect his daughter from exploitation.
The memoir pushes back fiercely on the idea of that the conservatorship was for her own good: She writes, according to an excerpt, that the arrangement made her into a kind of “child-robot,” a shadow of her former self, asserting that male artists had mismanaged their money and dealt with substance abuse problems without being treated as she had.
“There was no way to behave like an adult, since they wouldn’t treat me like an adult, so I would regress and act like a little girl,” one of the excerpts said, “but then my adult self would step back in — only my world didn’t allow me to be an adult.”